Yesterday featured an observation that most lawyers have never been clients. In today’s competitive legal market, clients have more choices than ever. So it behooves lawyers to spend some time looking at themselves and their firms and see what sort of message they are sending.
So, as promised, here are some factors for lawyers to perform a retention-worthiness self-audit:
1. What is the trend of your workload? Many lawyers have been under capacity for some time. If you are the least busy in your practice group, you probably should keep reading. And maybe update your resume.
2. At the firm level, is it getting more work or less? If your entire firm is down, something is going on. Maybe its areas of practice and overall value/pricing are out of line with its target clients.
3. Does your legal specialty command higher prices generally, or are you already at the high end of your market? This is a real challenge, and a subset of #2. You have a fundamental career decision if your firm is pricing you out of your market.
4. Are some of your clients getting similar services from alternative providers? If you see work going to discovery vendors or legal process outsourcers, it may be a sign of things to come. And that day may be arriving faster than you think.
5. How important is your work to your clients? Is it nice to have or essential? Do they get right back to you at decision points or does some of your work product lie fallow on their desks for weeks at a time? They may be working on an RFP while you are waiting.
6. Are you developing your own work, or do you rely on others for most of it? This is often the hardest question to face, let alone answer. If you have clients, you have options, even if it is at another firm or one of your own. If you don’t, you are not a partner, even if they are nice and call you that in public.
7. How visible are you at your firm? Do you participate in or benefit from any firm marketing? Even if some outreach efforts are directed at your practice group, that’s a start. A dirty little secret at many law firms is how invisible most of its lawyers are to the market.
So that’s a start. Some of these factors may appear familiar given the discussion of the Legal Pyramid a few weeks back.
Tomorrow we will provide some guidance on one of these factors, and announce the next Wired GC Seminar, to be held in early May.
It’s never fun to have a check-up. But we are all under scrutiny right now, whether we like it or not. Preventative legal is one requirement of the new normal.